I sat in the front row awaiting my eldest child, my only (biological) daughter, Micaela, to walk down the aisle for her high school graduation. The choir sang, we stood, and I wondered where the tears were. The week before everything and anything that reminded me that my daughter was no longer a child was making me cry. Just the day before I stood in the Kroger bakery aisle sobbing as I chose a congratulatory cake. My husband just hugged me while the employees looked horrified, even after I tried to explain. But as Micaela took her seat, all I could do was smile.
It seemed like just a few years ago that I was wearing that white gown, in that same school, awaiting my diploma, awaiting a grown up life in a grown up world. But it wasn’t just a few years ago, it was twenty-four years ago. I tried to remember who spoke then and what messages were shared. I tried to remember what songs were sung. I came up empty. My only memory that I had was taking pictures before and after the ceremony. I am not even sure what I did afterwards, or even if I had received a gift. It was blank. Was Micaela going to remember this day? Was she going to be friends with anybody she graduated with? I looked over at her and she caught my eye and smiled.
In the fall she will be moving to college. Albeit just twenty minutes away, it is away nonetheless, and I am certain that the tears will be rolling then. I have already told her that she better come home once in awhile or I will be kidnapping her because technically I can’t ground her, but it doesn’t mean I might not try it.
My mom used to cry to me that because of my divorce, because of a split family, that my kids had a sad life. “Those poor kids”, she would say. I tried many times to explain to her that they were rich in love from many, and far from poor. She never did get it in life, but I think she does now on the Other Side. And so as I sat holding my husband’s hand, my son next to me, my dad, my ex husband’s parents, and my ex and his family making up the rest of the row, not one time did I think that Micaela thought she had it bad even though there were bad situations. She had a cheering section of pure love and always will. And it is the love that I hope she remembers most. Things weren’t always easy, and there were many challenges along her way. Sure she could use a mess of excuses to have not succeeded, but she never did, and I don’t believe she ever will.
We shouldn’t define ourselves by situations or circumstances because that will surely create the path. Not feeling well? Don’t let that define you. Have a learning disability? Don’t let that define you. Have money issues? Don’t let that define you. Lost a loved one? Don’t let that define you. Haven’t found love? Don’t let that define you. The world is made up of plenty of people who create excuses, but success doesn’t come from making excuses, it comes from taking the more difficult path and creating your own way. Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.”
So next time you start to make an excuse, ask yourself if you are allowing the excuse to define you and if that excuse even matters. Instead of making the excuse, see it as an opportunity to grow through your situation and on to the path that you want to be on.
Oh, and the tears, they started as soon as I finished writing this, but they are happy ones.